First Early Reviews of Looper, the Time Travel Movie That Could Be One of 2012's Best Films

There hasn't been a truly great time travel movie in quite some time, maybe since Primer. But we've got high hopes for Rian Johnson, the director of Brick, to create a cool new spin on the genre with his new film, Looper.

It's been three years since we interviewed Johnson about Looper, and a year since we looked at early script pages. Now at last, an early cut of the film has had its first test screening.

A couple of sites, Ain't It Cool News and Badass Digest, managed to attend.

Spoilers ahead...

And this early review of the movie only makes me more excited to see it, praising the performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, playing the same guy 30 years apart. In particular, it sounds as though Johnson has a well-thought-out sense of how time travel works, and he demonstrates it by showing the audience, rather than having long scenes where people discuss temporal mechanics. (In a nutshell, it sounds very much like Back to the Future — if you shoot someone, his/her future self will have an old bullet wound all of a sudden.) And writer Devin Faraci also praises Looper's worldbuilding for the world of the 2040s, which is like our world with a handful of well-thought-out tweaks. Comparisons are made to Moon.

In Looper, Gordon-Levitt is a Looper, a hitman who kills people who have been sent back in time from the 2070s, so that they can be murdered without any consequences (legal or otherwise.) Every Looper kills his own future self at some point, because the future mafia wants to cover its tracks — but Gordon-Levitt fails to kill his own future self (Willis) and now there are two of him running around. Gordon-Levitt has to track down his future self before the brutal Gat Men, the enforcers in this whole scheme, find him. The whole thing sounds violent and intense, but also like a brilliant character study.

Intriguingly, Faraci suggests that there's more to this than meets the eye, and that the film contains a lot of reversals that wind up making you question who the real hero is, and what's really going on. Most of all, he reaffirms our sense that Looper, which just got a big distribution deal and is slated for Fall 2012 — could be one of next year's most memorable films.

Ain't It Cool News' Mr. Beaks adds to our excitement, calling the film:

A crackerjack sci-fi/action flick that recalls the genre-blending daring of the '70s and '80s. And it's not just a time travel movie. Just when LOOPER seems to be settling into one type of film, it veers off in another direction, then settles down again, then goes absolutely bonkers without sacrificing clarity of story or theme. This is masterful filmmaking - a stirring reminder that genre entertainment can be both smart and accessible... LOOPER is an intricately structured story enlivened by Johnson's trademark wit and wounded romanticism. It's an invigorating, thrilling, ceaselessly inventive film, a miracle in an era of by-committee studio filmmaking. And while it's still months from being finished, barring any postproduction monkey business, it's already a great movie.

[Badass Digest and AICN]